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Asbury, Herbert (01 September 1891–24 February 1963), journalist and popular historian, was born in Farmington, Missouri, the son of Samuel Lester Asbury, a surveyor and city clerk, and Ellen N. Prichard. His grandfather and great-grandfather were Methodist ministers. Asbury claimed that his great-great uncle was ...

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Blake, Lillie Devereux (12 August 1835–30 December 1913), author and feminist, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of George Pollok Devereux, a planter, and Sarah Elizabeth Johnson. Though she was christened Elizabeth Johnson, her father called her “Lilly,” and she adopted that name with altered spelling. The Devereux were prominent slaveholders, and Lillie spent her early years on her father’s cotton plantation. After George Devereux’s death in 1837, she moved with her mother and sister to Connecticut, joining her mother’s family there. She was raised in New Haven in an atmosphere of Episcopalian respectability and Whiggish political convictions. Her education at a girls’ school was supplemented by private tutoring based on courses in the Yale curriculum....

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Braden, Anne (28 July 1924–06 March 2006), civil rights activist and journalist, was born Anne Gambrell McCarty in Louisville, Kentucky, to Gambrell and Anita McCarty. Because her father was a traveling salesman, she grew up in various southern states, but mostly in rigidly segregated Anniston, Alabama. Her conservative white Episcopal parents fully embraced  the norms of southern racial hierarchy, and they remained comfortable throughout the Depression years of her childhood, but the young Anne, idealistic and devoutly religious, was troubled by the suffering around her. After graduating from Anniston High School in 1941, she left home to study literature and journalism at two Virginia women’s colleges, first Stratford Junior College and then Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, where she discovered the life of the mind in a serious way and first met critics of racial segregation. In 1945, upon graduation from Randolph-Macon, she returned to postwar Alabama as a newspaper reporter, first for the ...

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Braden, Carl James (1914–18 February 1975), journalist and social justice activist, was born in New Albany, Indiana, the son of James Braden, a railroadman and auto worker, and Elizabeth Braden. He attended Catholic schools in Louisville and was for two years a proseminary student at Mount Saint Francis College in Indiana. In 1930, at the age of sixteen, he left Mount Saint Francis for a job as a reporter for the ...

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Bruce, John Edward (22 February 1856–07 August 1924), journalist and historian, was born in Piscataway, Maryland, the son of Martha Allen Clark and Robert Bruce, who were both enslaved Africans. In 1859 Major Harvey Griffin, Robert Bruce’s slaveholder, sold him to a Georgia slaveholder. Raised by his mother, Bruce lived in Maryland until 1861 when Union troops marching through Maryland freed him and his mother, taking them to Washington, D.C., where Bruce lived until 1892. In 1865 Bruce’s mother worked as a domestic in Stratford, Connecticut, where Bruce received his early education in an integrated school. One year later they returned to Washington, where Bruce continued his education. Although he did not complete high school, he enrolled in a course at Howard University in 1872. Bruce married Lucy Pinkwood, an opera singer from Washington, D.C. They had no children. In 1895 Bruce married Florence Adelaide Bishop, with whom he had one child....

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Burnham, Louis Everett (29 September 1915–12 February 1960), journalist, activist, and radical, was born in Harlem, New York, the son of Charles Breechford Burnham, a building superintendent, and Louise St. Clair Williams Burnham, a hairdresser. His parents had emigrated from Barbados to the United States in search of a better livelihood, and they bought their own property in Harlem and began providing rooms for new Caribbean immigrants. Burnham attended New York City public schools and graduated from Townsend High School in 1932. In the fall of 1932 he enrolled in City College. He became actively involved in student political activities, serving as president of the Frederick Douglass Society and vice president of the student council. Affable, charismatic, and a powerful orator, he often spoke on campus about racial injustice, the threat of fascism to world peace, unemployment, and the plight of American youth. He graduated from City College in 1936....

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Croly, Jane Cunningham (19 December 1829–23 December 1901), writer and women's club leader, writer and women’s club leader, was born in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, England, the daughter of Joseph Howes Cunningham, a Unitarian preacher, and Jane Scott. Croly’s family emigrated to the United States from England in 1841, perhaps prompted by the unpopularity of her father’s extreme Unitarianism and his efforts to educate workers. She was twelve years old when they settled in Poughkeepsie, New York, and then in Wappinger’s Falls, New York. She kept house for her Congregationalist minister brother and acquired enough learning to teach district school and write a semimonthly newspaper for her brother’s parishioners....

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DeVoto, Bernard Augustine (11 January 1897–13 November 1955), journalist and historian, was born in Ogden, Utah, the son of Florian DeVoto, a teacher and freight agent, and Rhoda Dye. Educated well beyond the demands of the jobs he held, DeVoto’s father could provide only a meager income and a very modest home for his small family. As the offspring of religious dissenters (his father was a lapsed Roman Catholic; his mother, a nonpracticing Mormon), DeVoto blamed his family’s economic circumstances and religious nonconformity for alienating him from his birthplace. He grew up openly critical of the townspeoples’ provincial ways and censorious attitudes....

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Dorr, Rheta Childe (02 November 1866–08 August 1948), journalist and feminist, was born in Omaha, Nebraska, the daughter of Edward Payson Child, a druggist, and Lucie Mitchell. Christened Reta Louise Child, Dorr later adopted the “Rheta Childe” spelling. In 1884 her father enrolled her at the University of Nebraska, where she took the “opportunity to loaf to my heart’s content.” Finding her “soul’s reflection” in Henrik Ibsen’s play ...

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Douglas, Marjory Stoneman (07 April 1890–14 May 1998), author and environmentalist, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Florence Lillian Trefethen Stoneman, who went by the name of Lillian, and Frank Bryant Stoneman, a businessman and newspaper editor. When Marjory was three her father's business failed, and the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Further business reverses took a toll on Lillian Stoneman's mental health and resulted in a nervous breakdown. Not long thereafter, Lillian separated from her husband and, with her six-year-old daughter, traveled to Taunton, Massachusetts, to live with her parents and unmarried sister....

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Durham, John Stephens (18 July 1861–16 October 1919), diplomat, lawyer, and journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Durham and Elizabeth Stephens. Two of his uncles, Clayton Durham and Jeremiah Durham, were noted clergymen who helped Bishop Richard Allen establish the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. A mulatto, Durham studied in the Philadelphia public schools, graduating from the Institute for Colored Youth in 1876....

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Firestone, Shulamith (07 January 1945–28 August 2012), feminist, author, and activist, was born Shulamith Bath Shmuel Ben Ari Feuerstein in Ottawa, Canada, the second child and oldest daughter of six children born to Kate Weiss and Sol Feuerstein. The family Americanized its surname to Firestone when it moved to the United States. Shulie Firestone, as she was known, grew up in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, where she and her two sisters and three brothers were raised in the Orthodox Jewish tradition. Firestone attended the Rabbinical College of Telshe, near Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington University in St. Louis before transferring in 1964 to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned a B.F.A. in painting three years later. Throughout college Firestone supported herself by working as a mail sorter at the post office. In 1967 four male students at the Art Institute made a film about Firestone, entitled ...

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Ford, Henry Jones (25 August 1851–29 August 1925), journalist and historian, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Franklin Ford and Anne Elizabeth Jones. He graduated from Baltimore City College in 1868. Upon graduation he spent the next four years trying his hand at various trades, becoming in 1872 an editorial writer for the ...

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Gunther, John (30 August 1901–29 May 1970), foreign correspondent and writer, was born in Chicago, the son of Eugene M. Gunther, a salesman, and Lisette Shoeninger, a schoolteacher. His mother stimulated Gunther’s interest in literature and history; at eleven he already was compiling a personal encyclopedia of world affairs. The wide-ranging interests, energy, and enthusiasm displayed at this early age characterized his personal and professional life. At the University of Chicago, where he graduated in 1922, he became literary editor of the campus newspaper while building his personal library by reviewing books for other journals as well. Eager for a writer’s career, he headed for Europe to soak up continental culture without waiting to receive his bachelor’s degree....

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Edward Everett Hale Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-99518).

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Hale, Edward Everett (03 April 1822–10 June 1909), author, reformer, and Unitarian minister, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Hale, a journalist, and Sarah Preston Everett. His father was a nephew of revolutionary war hero Captain Nathan Hale, and his maternal uncle and namesake was the orator and statesman ...

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Hamilton, Thomas (26 April 1823–29 May 1865), journalist and antislavery activist, was born in New York City, the son of William Hamilton, a carpenter and community leader who participated in the rising abolitionist and black convention movements of the early 1830s. His mother’s name and occupation are not known. Although young Thomas gained a rudimentary education in the city’s African Free Schools and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the primary influence on his career choice seems to have been growing up in the Hamilton household, where he was introduced to abolitionism and the reform press at an early age. A few months after his father’s death in 1836, he went to work as a carrier for the ...

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Harman, Moses (12 October 1830–30 January 1910), free-thought and free-love journalist, was born in Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Va.), the son of Job Harman, a hardscrabble farmer and marginal land speculator, and Nancy (maiden name unknown). In pursuit of the main chance, the family relocated four times during Harman’s first ten years, and consequently his formal schooling was limited to a scant few months. Through sheer perseverance, he taught himself to read and by his sixteenth year had so mastered the rudiments that he was able to hire himself out as a teacher. At age eighteen, with the assistance of his family, and with money earned by tutoring his classmates, he entered Arcadia College in Iron County, Missouri, graduating in 1851. Just before the Civil War, he spent one semester of study at the St. Louis Normal School....

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Hildreth, Richard (28 June 1807–11 July 1865), journalist, antislavery activist, philosopher, and historian, was born in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the son of Hosea Hildreth, a Congregational (later Unitarian) minister and educator, and Sarah McLeod Hildreth. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where his father was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. After graduating from Harvard in 1826, he spent a year teaching school in Concord, Massachusetts. This experience inspired his earliest historical writing, ...

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Holbrook, Stewart Hall (22 August 1893–03 September 1964), journalist and historian, was born in Newport, Vermont, the son of Jessie Holbrook, an itinerant businessman, and Kate Stewart. As a result of his father’s frequent relocations, Stewart’s childhood education was incomplete. He attended Colebrook Academy in New Hampshire but left without graduating when his family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1911. Shortly thereafter, his father died, leaving Holbrook to find his own means of support. Pursuing latent interests in writing, he worked as a reporter for the Winnipeg ...